Void Glass

W18 A Poem About Nothing

Nothing is
undefined. Ask the insightful OED:

1. Not…thing; nought.…
2. No…thing; no…thing…
3. Not anything…
4. not any…
5. nothingness…no…thing…
6. no…thing

Nothing is a blanket, grapes and grass and blue-bright sunlight.
Nothing is a clean roadside motel near the World’s Largest Trivial Object.
Nothing is the creak and sway of a bus on the way to anywhere away.
Nothing is a cave where the heart should be.
Nothing is teeth where a smile should be.
Nothing is the wasteland of wonder.
Nothing is the stark naked interface of reality unscreened.
Nothing is sleet and ash sans shelter.
Nothing is the one thing that can stop us now (in the name of existence).
Nothing is the missing stair before the fall.
Nothing is the disappearance of causality:
when the runner becomes rhythm, the ground strikes the soles.
when the craft masters artist, the strokes draw the brush.
Nothing is the release after deadline.
Nothing is code 404: wrong address.
Nothing is the waiting room, the airport, a blank sky,
a mirror in the dark, three dots in a row.
Nothing is an evening of Netflix and Pop-tarts.
Nothing is wrong and nothing is right and nothing is left and nothing is gone.

Nothing is
neither place beyond the universe, nor the stuff of creation;
not the cosmic winter when stars freeze;
not a hole in the spacetime fabric;
not the bread of Death, nor the dead’s unbreath;
not the wildering sleepwalk of Time;
not the fiber of modern society, nor the decay thereof;
not the sum of human hope, nor the end of history;
not whatever “end” means;
neither liberation nor captivity;
not the life of detachment at wheel’s end;
not the sleep of halfway souls;
not the ocean of being after self is lost;
not the silence between planets, nor the gap between quanta;
not zero, nor any less than;
not impossible;
not ineffable;
not the collapse of opposites, nor the loss of meaning;
not the outcome of reason, nor the summit of faith;
not the skeptic’s goad, nor the philosopher’s thorn;
not the acceptance of Can’t, nor the refutation of Kant;
neither new, nor under the sun;
not the shadow, but the lack thereof;
not a chair, nor a pipe;
not the focus of much ado;
not the sweet words of lovers;
neither what is owed, nor what is given;
not hunger nor despair;
not a cave where a heart should be, nor a pocket where hands don’t meet;
not idle dream, nor doublethink;
not all for nor else matters;
not a word from any known language;
not wassup nor whatcha say;
not the effect nor the cause of différance;
not the answer to queries unsaid, nor the groan of trees unheard;
not the shape nor sound of what you and I know;
not what am I when I cease
to think

no _
thing one where way how kidding worries clue lie bake can-do bueno thanks smoking carbs nonsense hands time offense saytodrugs senseofhumor restforthewicked yes no
no _
any _ some _ every _
What is it then? What is
the force to which deep thoughts bend? What is
more vast than all the cosmos, nor smaller than a single point? What is
left when death and heartache cease to matter?

This Page Intentionally Left Blank

W19 Essay

A screen is just that, exactly what it claims to be. It screens. Can we call it irony when it’s so forthright? Our focus is clipped, our attention is cropped, our view is tinted. The colors of sunlight are wan beside the perfect glow. The screen emits and blocks light at the same time. We all know the view through a camera doesn’t match what our eyes see. When reflections from the outside world disturb the immersion, we call it glare.

Feed too. Not food but feed. As a noun, feed is what comes before slaughter. As a verb, feed implies rampant, unchecked hunger—raw instinct. What does your feed feed?

Imagine if instead of phones, we all carried a palm-sized sheet of glass, so pure and fine as to be invisible. At the bus stop or the breakfast table, we’d stare through our glass, rub and tap arcane patterns over it. Silly, useless, insane, yet more transparent.

I’m not railing against kids these days. Those darn whippersnappers. I’m one of them. I never knew a world without the internet. I have the hunch and the bad eyes. Maybe, when I or you or anyone crusades for a screenless life—screenoclasm?—maybe we’re just reinforcing it. It’s not insightful any more (and maybe never was) to proclaim the evils of too much screen.1 In the words of Ursula K. Le Guin, “To oppose something is to maintain it.…You must go somewhere else; you must have another goal; then you walk a different road.” 2

By this logic, we may need something to replace the digital screen. There is no breaking it. We all have a screen to filter every waking moment. Because in truth, to live in a human mind is to screen the world.


1 There’s a brilliant scene poking fun at this in Mitchells vs. the Machines. The answer can’t be mere eye contact.

2 The Left Hand of Darkness, p. 151, Ace 2000 edition.

W20 Another Day At the Pond

Ducks strut over the lawn, plucking grub from the grass. Two little furballs bobble like wind-up toys, flanked by two elder guardians. One of the elders has a wing feather loose, the tip dragging. Imagine their proud ancestors: six times your size, with blades for teeth.

A passing man—blazing pink backpack and designer shades—goes after them, hissing a challenge. He laughs as they retreat, hissing in return. His girlfriend films with a quirk on her lips.

That feather’s no feather. The defending bird soars to chest height, flicks a rapier from the scabbard and stains it red.

W21 Image

This month I went to a little exposition for artist’s books. What are those? I had no idea. Artist’s books explore the idea of bookness. They’re artworks in book form. They tend to be special limited printings or handmade originals, or sometimes a blend of printing and handcraft. After a bit of online research, I see these go back to twentieth-century avant-garde movements, and before that to William Blake, and if you like, all the way to illuminated medieval manuscripts—although I suppose the modern artist’s book should at least postdate the printing press, which changes the whole booking game.

The makers each had a stall in the cramped, cozy space of a community theatre. A narrow aisle wound through the tables arranged with book-like curiosities: an accordion book coiled in a pile over itself, sheets of rugged Japanese paper, cards in fake pharmaceutical boxes, a book bound with gold-framed circuitboards, pages stamped with woodcut or letterpress, I’m losing some of you already; all manner of pressed dried forest pulp.

The first time through, I just looked. Afterward I thought: they’re meant for touching, I’ve missed half the experience. So I went through again, this time browsing with my hands. Under the circuitboards, I found a collection of computerized art. Collages of Instagram screenshots, fragments of code, retro graphs and printouts with pixellated grain. An oversized book unfolded to reveal macro photos of textures on the human body next to similar textures in nature.

Quality paper is sensuous. Every type of forest pulp was a world against my skin.

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